In today's tough economy, many people are finding it harder to keep up with their bills and can fall behind. When that happens you can count on the fact that you will start getting collection calls, first from the company you owe money to and then from collection companies.
If you are sued by a creditor, collection agency or debt buyer, you may have defenses which will prevent them from getting a judgment. You will waive your defenses if they are not pled properly, or if you leave one out. I will give you a free phone
consultation. You don't want to write this answer yourself, and you may have claims back against a debt buyer for suing on a time barred debt.
Creditor Harassment & Abuse
How the FDCPA protects consumers against debt collectors
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that prohibits certain conduct by debt collectors. It is important to understand that the FDCPA only applies to communications with “debt collectors” (ie. not the original creditor collecting its own debt*) and to “consumer debts” (ie. not business debts). Under the FDCPA, a debt collector is forbidden from doing any of the following:
- Communicate with you at inconvenient times or places. Inconvenient times are generally considered to before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m., local time where the consumer is located.
- Contact you directly if the debt collector knows you are represented by an attorney.
- Communicate with you at work if you tell the debt collector not to call you there, or if the debt collector knows that you cannot receive calls at work.
- Contact third parties and inform them you owe a debt.
- Communicate with you after you’ve requested (preferably in writing) that the debt collector stop calling you.
- Engage in conduct that is harassing, oppressive, or abusive to you.
- Threaten you with violence or other criminal behavior.
- Use obscene, profane, or abusive language.
- Use false, deceptive, or misleading representations or collection methods.
- Threaten to take legal action if there is no intention or authority to do so.
- Falsely imply an affiliation with a government.
- Falsely represent the amount, character, or legal status of a debt.
- Falsely imply that the debt collector is an attorney.
- Imply that non-payment will result in arrest or imprisonment.
- Collect any amount that is not legally owing.
- GARNISH wages in North Carolina, with certain exceptions.
This is not an exhaustive list, and there may be exceptions to some of the general prohibitions. If you believe that a debt collector has violated the FDCPA, contact me immediately. Be aware that in NORTH CAROLINA, the state law DOES apply to the original creditor/lender, although the federal law does not. If you have been threatened or harassed by a collection agency you have specific legal rights and protections under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
KEEP any letters or correspondence with such collection firms away (you don't have to open them). WRITE DOWN the time and date of any and every conversation you have including who you spoke with and the content of the call. KEEP any harassing voicemails. Such documentation will greatly assist filing any complaint or lawsuit. For details on what you can do to address harassment or abuse from a collection agency you should speak with Attorney Ruth Allen.
We are dedicated to helping consumers who have been abused or threatened by collection agencies and can help you take effective actions against them.
There are many, many different debt collection firms and companies that "buy debts" and then attempt to collect what they can as profit. Often they offer big bonuses to successful collection agents and the incentive for such bonuses mean they may say and do things that violate the FDCPA. The more evidence you can collect beginning with the earliest contact with the collection agency, the better your chances of your complaint or suit having a successful outcome. Because if you win, the firm being sued must also pay for the attorney fees, we will usually be able to pursue your case on a contingency basis, with no money up front.
Despite these prohibitions some debt collectors continue to violate the law. Part of the problem is that debt collectors have no relationship with the consumer that they are concerned about maintaining; so they don't care if they offend you. These third party collection agencies attempt to collect past-due accounts that have been referred or sold to them by the original creditors. The great news is that - the North Carolina Fair Debt Collection Practices Act covers original creditors as well as collectors - it is a very consumer friendly law. I will be glad to discuss with you your possible remedies if creditors are not complying with these laws.
Who are Asset Acceptance, Portfolio Recovery, and LVNV Funding?
Asset Acceptance, Portfolio Recovery, and LVNV Funding are some of the biggest debt buyers in the collection industry. Other debt buyers include Midland Funding, Cavalry Portfolio, and CACH. A debt buyer is a company that purchases delinquent consumer accounts from original creditors such as Capital One, HSBC, Discover, and Wells Fargo. The debt buyer purchases the accounts for a tiny fraction of the balance - mere pennies on the dollar! - and then attempts to collect the entire balance from the consumer. Debt buyers file thousands of lawsuits and obtain thousands of default judgments each month. They are then free to garnish people’s bank accounts and wages (although NOT in North Carolina), and as a result, collect millions of dollars. This leads to huge profits, even in the current economy.